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Earth Systems student field trip to Għajn Tuffieħa
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A group of 27 students following the Institute’s B.Sc. (Hons) in Earth Systems course, accompanied by six staff members, recently spent three days under canvas while on a field trip to the Għajn Tuffieħa area. The field trip, which took place between 4 and 6 May 2016, was originally planned to be held in Comino but had to be relocated at the last minute to the Għajn Tuffieħa campsite on account of the gale force winds and rough seas that were forecast to continue throughout the week. 


Students sketching the landscape as part of a mapping exercise.  

This activity was an integral part of the second-year study unit titled “Environmental Monitoring: Survey and Recording Techniques for Life and Earth Sciences”, which aims to give students hands-on experience of collecting and analysing scientific data in the fields of geomorphology, soil science and ecology. Students worked together in small groups on a programme of tasks which included onsite soil analysis, beach profiling, water monitoring, GeoCaching, and biotope mapping (conducted in Comino on the last day). This type of intensive outdoor experience, requiring students to live and work together outside their usual environment, is also instrumental in developing the key elements of team building, cooperation and communication skills. 

These fieldwork exercises are also intended to help students understand the necessity of having a robust research design, and to underline the importance of collecting and analysing data rigorously. These are particularly valuable concepts for students in their second year of study, as this is when they finalise their proposals for the dissertation research to be carried out in the final year of the course.

The Institute would like to thank the Planning Authority, Għajnsielem Local Council, the Comino Hotel and the Scouts Association, Malta for their assistance with the planning and camping-related logistics of the field trip, in relation to both the originally planned Comino site and the actual site at Għajn Tuffieħa.


Soil sampling in an abandoned field, in an area of agricultural land near Manikata.


Students setting up camp on arrival at the Għajn Tuffieħa campsite.


A view of the camp – home sweet home for the three-day field trip!

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